Tuesday, 29 July 2008

It seems a long time ago now...

We slithered into operation as a hotel, about four months earlier than planned in late December 2004 when, finally, we could no longer resist the pleading of tsunami survivors arriving in droves from the west coast, or those who were making their way down to Phuket and Pi Pi, or Krabi and Koh Lanta when they learned that devastation had struck the Andaman coast.

Our first guests were a Swiss honeymoon couple to whom we offered a supremely comfortable bed and a bottle of bubbly. We took no payment, but the room had no curtains and the taps fell off. They were obliged to make do using the cardboard cartons in which the furniture had recently arrived, tacked over the windows to allow some privacy. We thought we had seen the last of our honeymooners when we wished them well the following morning, but that second night they returned having failed to find anywhere else, as the island, already very busy during Samui's peak season, was now swollen by thousands more whose west coast holiday had been all but wiped out.

And so it continued. In the following days and weeks, a tide of human misery arrived in Samui trying to make the best of their altered, often tragic circumstances. We started to charge enough to cover our costs and a bit more when we realised that many of our guests were succeeding very well at making the best of their situation - most were having an absolute blast! Curtains or not.

I've just looked at our Business Plan, written when the hotel was still only a dream and the land was, literally, an infested dump and mostly, a tangle of virgin undergrowth. One of the qualitative objectives we set as a measure of our performance was to aim for 35 per cent repeat occupancy within three years.

Three and a half years after our unscheduled opening, almost 70 per cent of bookings are from guests that have stayed with us at Baan Bophut before, or are first timers who have been recommended the hotel from someone that has stayed. Many, I'm delighted to record, are repeat visitors from those very early days who saw beyond the lack of curtains, wonky taps and the idiosyncrasies of pool water that turned black when we added chlorine. Many remain family friends and it was a particular privilege when one of our most frequent visitors, right from those earliest of days, chose Baan Bophut for her beach wedding earlier this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Widget by LinkWithin